Women in the Mosque

A History of Legal Thought and Social Practice

Marion Holmes Katz

Columbia University Press

Women in the Mosque

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Pub Date: September 2014

ISBN: 9780231162661

432 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£50.00

Pub Date: September 2014

ISBN: 9780231537872

432 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£50.00

Women in the Mosque

A History of Legal Thought and Social Practice

Marion Holmes Katz

Columbia University Press

Juxtaposing Muslim scholars' debates over women's attendance in mosques with historical descriptions of women's activities within Middle Eastern and North African mosques, Marion Holmes Katz shows how over the centuries legal scholars' arguments have often reacted to rather than dictated Muslim women's behavior.

Tracing Sunni legal positions on women in mosques from the second century of the Islamic calendar to the modern period, Katz connects shifts in scholarly terminology and argumentation to changing constructions of gender. Over time, assumptions about women's changing behavior through the lifecycle gave way to a global preoccupation with sexual temptation, which then became the central rationale for limits on women's mosque access. At the same time, travel narratives, biographical dictionaries, and religious polemics suggest that women's usage of mosque space often diverged in both timing and content from the ritual models constructed by scholars. Katz demonstrates both the concrete social and political implications of Islamic legal discourse and the autonomy of women's mosque-based activities. She also examines women's mosque access as a trope in Western travelers' narratives and the evolving significance of women's mosque attendance among different Islamic currents in the twentieth century.
A scholarly milestone. Women in the Mosque is a comprehensive, categorical treatment of the question of women's mosque access in Islamic law and history. Marion Holmes Katz is one of the most widely respected scholars of Islamic law and ritual in the West, and, in its scope and detail, this work is peerless to my knowledge. Jonathan Brown, Georgetown University
Women in the Mosque will become an essential part of the library of every scholar concerned with Islamic ritual law, women in religion, women in Islam, and even religious architecture. There is something here for students of Islamic law, Ottoman history, Arab social history, and modern Muslim intellectual history. Kevin Reinhart, Dartmouth College
Marion Holmes Katz brings to light and adds context to the fascinating history of women's access to mosques through a dexterous presentation of a wide range of legal sources, travel accounts, contemporaneous Christian and Jewish accounts, literature, and a unique sixteenth-century manuscript recounting when women contested the ruling authorities' attempt to ban them from Islam's most sacred mosque in Mecca. A must-read for anyone interested in a solid historical account related to issues of women and gender in Islam. Intisar A. Rabb, Harvard Law School, and director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program
A highly scholarly work on an important but oft-ignored aspect of women in Islam. The Islamic Quarterly
The book is of great importance to those interested in Muslim women's status, religious rights, and practice.... Highly recommended. Choice
Extraordinary... a rich, in-depth, and often amusing analysis of the legal debates and social records of women's mosque attendance from the eighth to the early twenty-first century. Journal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World
This is an extremely detailed, nuanced and precise account of women's presence in the mosque over the centuries. Journal of Islamic Studies
This book is praiseworthy for its extensive use of textual sources, making it an excellent source for the study of intellectual discourse on women's mobility and visibility in Islam. Journal of the American Academy of Religion
[An] extremely valuable book. Ruth Roded, Religion & Gender
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Women's Mosque Attendance as a Legal Problem
2. Reconstructing Practice
3. Debating Women's Mosque Access in Sixteenth-Century Mecca
4. Modern Developments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Read the introduction:

About the Author

Marion Holmes Katz has taught at Franklin and Marshall and Mount Holyoke College and is currently a professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at New York University. She has published extensively on topics relating to Islamic law, gender, and ritual.